Frank J. (Frank John) Urquhart.

A history of the city of Newark, New Jersey : embracing practically two and a half centuries, 1666-1913 (Volume 1) online

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grades. George P. McCulloch, of Morristown, is understood to
have been the originator of the inclined plane idea. "Such planes,"
said one writer of the time, "had never before been applied to boats
of such magnitude, nor an operation so extensive."

The actual cost of the canal, from Philipsburg to Newark,
was about $2,000,000, instead of $817,000, as originally esti-


mated. The cost of construction from Newark to Jersey City was
figured at $100,000, but this proved very much too low. This last
section was not put into commission until 1836, the year the city
charter was granted. The total length of the canal is one hundred
and one miles, over a circuitous route. It has a total rise and fall
of 1,674 feet.

"The first boat to reach tide waters," says Shaw's History of
Essex and Hudson Counties, "was the 'Walk in the Water,' with a
consignment to Stephens & Condit. This was on the 19th or 20th
day of May, 1832. The arrival of two canal boats from Mauch
Chunk, laden with Lehigh coal, was hailed with pleasure by the
Newark newspapers, and the announcement was made that fif-
teen or twenty more boats laden with coal were on their way. The
citizens were recommended, as a measure of prudence and economy,
to "provide themselves with this indispensable article at an early
period and not defer it till setting in of the winter." From fifteen
to twenty boats arrived daily with coal, wood, iron ore and country
produce, and carrying back merchandise, raw materials and other
articles used in manufacturing establishments on the line of the
canal, causing a brisk business during the spring and summer. The
advantages to Newark and the whole country through which the
canal passed were already manifest in the activity and enterprise
which everywhere pervaded it — in the reduction in the price of fuel
and other necessaries of life, and in the great increase in the value
of real estate along the borders of the canal."

This waterway continued of the highest use to the Newark
neighborhood for a full generation after its opening, although,
toward the end of that period the railroads had begun to rob it of
its supremacy as a coal and general freight-carrying utility. The
canal really made the burning of hard coal a possibility here (the
way to produce combustion having been perfected). William C.
Wallace in his reminiscences, written in 1889, said:


"In the early part of the 'last' century, Newark was odorous
with turf smoke, there being turf meadows with their drying


houses near Newark, convenient to the Camptown (now Irvington)
road, and to those who owned turf lots, this was the cheapest fuel,
wood lots being owned very generally by householders and man-
aged with economy. Previous to the discovery of the anthracite
coal mines in Pennsylvania, there was great anxiety among thought-
ful men about fuel — how long the forests convenient to Newark
would last — and they began to calculate and to consider what was
to be done. I have heard the question agitated among old gentle-
men around my father's fireside of blazing hickory, what was to be
done when their wood lots around Newark were exhausted. * * *

"But for years" after the discovery of anthracite "there was
no more benefit derived than from black stones, as there was no
known method by which combustion could be produced. The fire-
places, grates and stoves then in use could make no impression
because their drafts were insufficient. Scientific analysis pointed
out the valuable qualities, but the Philadelphia owners of the mines,
by persuasion and rewards, summoned all the ingenuity of the
country for contrivances to make draft sufficient to produce com-
bustion. Contracted chimney throats and grate blowers date from
that period. Previous to this entry stoves and furnaces were
unknown ; hence the reason why fine houses had low ceilings —
more easily warmed." * * *

Canal boats for passenger service were for a long time in use.
There was a packet boat in the 1830's, the "Maria Colden," that
made daily trips (Sundays excepted) between Newark and Passaic.
The fare each way was fifty cents, and between Newark and Bloom-
field twenty-five. It was a favorite trip for excursionists.

During the year ending with September 13, 1834, 20,000 tons
of merchandise were moved over the canal in 1,085 boatloads.


The settlers made good use of Newark's water transportation
facilities to and from New York, and the periaugers dotted the
Passaic, Newark Bay and the Arthur Kull in all but the most
inclement weather for upwards of a hundred and fifty years. They
gave way in the first two or three decades of the last century to
the steamboats, and these, in turn, grew gradually fewer in number
as the railroads throve. For upwards of three-quarters of a cen-
tury, from their establishment in New Jersey until almost the very
opening of the present century, the railroads seemed to .sys-


tematically discourage water traffic in this region. Then, finding
that they had more business than they could handle with celerity,
this attitude of opposition began to disappear.

As early as 1818, Messrs. Stephens, Condit and Cox set up a
line of freight boats, consisting of sloops and schooners. There
were extensive shipyards at Belleville and on the opposite bank
further up-stream. As early as 1798, a steamboat sixty feet long
and equipped with an engine of twenty-inch cylinder and two-foot
stroke, and called the "Polacca," is believed to have been constructed
at Belleville. On October 21 of that same year this craft started on
her trial trip upon the Passaic, but it was not a success. Thus
ended her brief history, several years before Robert Fulton's "Cler-
mont" astounded the dwellers along the Hudson. The inventor and
constructor of this half-mythical "Polacca" is said to have been a
man of the name of Roosevelt, but the traditions of Belleville refuse
to give forth this Roosevelt's christened name or his family con-

The first passenger steamboat to run regularly from Newark
to New York was the "Newark," in the early 1830's. This and
subsequent boats made Sunday trips, for many years before the
railroads gave such service, and the vessels did a most extensive
business on that day of the week. The steamboat "Passaic" was in
commission as early as 1836, and is said to have carried as many as
3,500 persons to New York or Coney Island in the 1840's, in one
day. The "May Queen" ran between Newark and New York from
1855 to 1858, as an excursion boat to New York and to Coney Island.
One of the early passenger boats was the "Olive Branch" running
between Newark and New York for one season, that of 1838. There
followed a long succession of steam passenger boats running from
Belleville and Newark to New York.


Newark was made a port of entry in 1834. About 1836 ware-
houses for the reception of sperm oil and whalebone were built
near the Centre street docks, and casks for the storing of the oil


were made there by the Stephens, Condit & Wright Whaling and
Sealing Company. This company fitted out, at the docks just men-
tioned, the ships "John Wells" and the "Columbus" as first-class
whalers. Each carried a crew of about thirty. They started on
their first cruise in the summer of 1837, rounded Cape Horn and
were quite successful, in the Pacific. But their skippers were not
altogether satisfied and they fared northward into the Arctic
ocean. There the "Columbus" was wrecked and her crew trans-
ferred to the "John Wells," which reached the dock in Newark
twenty-three months from the time she started out, and with three
thousand barrels of oil and a large quantity of whalebone. The
"John Wells" made three subsequent voyages to Arctic waters.
This seems to have been the end of Newark's whaling industry.

One of the members of the "John Wells" crew was a boy,
Michael Nerney, who later became a New Jersey pilot of marked
eflficiency. He was one of the very first to realize the great need of
lighthouses in Newark Bay and at Bergen Point. He aroused public
sentiment. He called upon a Congressman from Jersey City, Dud-
ley S. Gregory, for assistance, and in 1847 money was appropriated
for the erection of the two lighthouses at the points just men-
tioned. Both houses were lighted for the first time on September
20, 1849. Captain Nerney was made keeper for the Newark Bay
light, and held that post for twenty-one years. He kept a record
of the vessels that passed his light and found that as many as three
hundred sometimes passed in a single day.

In April, 1862, the Stephens & Condit Transportation Com-
pany was organized, out of the original concern, absorbing the
Thomas V. Johnson towing and freighting line, w^hich for years had
done business at Commercial Dock. At the time this new com-
pany was established its steamboats were the "Thomas P. Way,"
"Chicopee" and "Jamaica." It afterwards added the "Maryland,"
"Jonas C. Heartt," "Maria" and "Magenta." The last mentioned,
with the "Thomas P. Way" and the "Maryland," were chartered by
the Federal Government during the Civil War for the transporta-
tion of troops. The last two were practically rebuilt afterwards


and remained in commission until near the close of the last cen-
tury. The "Thomas P. Way" was burned, July 20, 1888. The
"Magenta" was finally converted into a ferry boat.


"The commerce of Newark," said Gordon's Gazeteer in 1833,
"already considerable, rapidly increases. It employs 65 vessels,
averaging 100 tons, in the coasting trade; eight or nine of which
are constantly engaged in transporting hither various building
materials. The Morris Canal, which runs through the town, gives
it many advantages for internal trade, for which twenty-five canal
boats are supplied by the inhabitants. The facilities for com-
munication with New York render the town a suburb of that great
city. A steamboat plies twice a day between the two places, carry-
ing an average of 75 passengers each trip, each way; two lines of
stages communicate between them almost hourly, conveying at
least 800 passengers a week; and the communication will be still
more frequent and facile when the New Jersey Railroad, now
rapidly progressing, shall have been completed. The directors have
not only run the railroad through part of the town, but have opened
a splendid avenue of 120 feet wide, by its side [the present New
Jersey Railroad avenue], and propose to cross the Passaic River
about the centre of the town, upon a wooden bridge on stone abut-
ments, which will give an additional trait of beauty to the place."
The avenue, by the way, had a highly stimulating influence upon
real estate in its neighborhood. New streets were opened rapidly.


In 1828 the Township of Newark, after long deliberation,
bought a plot of nearly nine acres east of New Jersey Railroad ave-
nue and south of Ferry street, for a "New Burying Place," to be
used in place of the Old Burying Ground, which it had been decided
in 1826 must no longer be used for the interment of bodies. The
sum of $641.27 was paid for the new cemetery property, but it
speedily became too valuable for burial purposes, as the building


of the railroad proceeded, and was cut up into building lots in
1835, and sold. Very few interments were made there. In the
early 1830's the town of Newark was indicted for maintaining a
nuisance in the Old Burying Ground, and steps had to be taken to
draw off the water that continually gathered there. Little regard
for the tombs of the town's founders was shown in those days, and
it is not altogether pleasant to note that when a new burying
ground was necessary a plot of low, cheap land, below the present
Pennsylvania Railroad, was purchased.


The first railroad to enter Newark was that of the New Jersey
Railroad and Transportation Company. It received its charter on
March 7, 1832, from the New Jersey Legislature, and the act of
incorporation permitted it to issue capital stock to the amount of
$775,000, with liberty to double that amount. The books for stock
subscriptions were opened for three days, the first day at New
Brunswick, the second at Elizabeth and the third at Newark. It
was at first proposed to cross the river "contiguous to" the Bridge
street bridge, but the bridge company was hostile, and would not
make any arrangement whatsoever with the railroad. The railroad
company's first officers. General John S. Darcy, of Morris County,
president, and John P. Jackson, of Newark, secretary, were chosen
here in Newark on March 22, 1832. When the three days for
stock subscription were over it was found that a considerable sur-
plus had been taken, and that the subscribers were almost wholly
Jerseymen. Thus was the railroad out of which the present Penn-
sylvania was to be partly built, inaugurated.

' "Work was immediately commenced. The roadbed was laid
across the meadows, bridges were built across the Passaic and
Hackensack, and in two years, or, on September 1, 1834, an excur-
sion was made over the road in the passenger car 'Washington,'
described by a chronicler of the period as 'a splendid and beautiful
specimen of workmanship, containing three apartments besides
seats on top.' Regular trips were commenced on September 15,

Shaw's History of Essex and Hudson Counties, vol. i, p. 194.



1834. The cars were operated with horse power, making eight
trips each way, leaving either terminus at 7, 8, 9 and 11 o'clock
a. m. ; 1, 2, 3 and 5 o'clock p. m. ; starting from the ferry at Jersey
City, and from Thomson's Hotel, Newark (situated on the site of
the present City Hall — 1884), stopping 'for the purpose of deliver-
ing and receiving passengers' as the advertisements of the day read,
at Chandler's Hotel, on Broad street, opposite Mechanic street; at
Dickerson's Hotel at the foot of Market street ; at the west end of
the bridge over the Passaic (Centre street) ; at the Hackensack
Bridge, and at the Paterson Depot (at what is now known as
Marion). The fare each way was 37 >4 cents, and the trip was made
to Jersey City in about half an hour.

"It was not then deemed safe to use locomotives on the embank-
ments extending over the marshes, and not until the embankments
were thoroughly settled was steam power considered secure upon
them. The first engine passed over the road, from Jersey City to
Newark, on December 2, 1835. It was named the 'Newark.'

"Up to January, 1838, when the Bergen Cut was completed,
the cars were drawn over the hill by horse power. This cut was a
heavy undertaking, and involved an immense outlay of money for
the time. * * * The road was extended to Elizabethtown in

1835, to Rahway in 1836, and, in the report of the directors for the
year 1837, it is stated that the distance from the Raritan to the
Passaic (22'4 miles) was completed 'with a single line of rails and
an adequate number of turnouts, upon the most approved mode of
structure, with heavy upright iron rails. On the whole of this
distance a locomotive engine has been used since the middle of last
July, making three trips a day.' On January 1, 1839, the road was
opened through to Philadelphia, and thus direct communication was
established between that city and New York. Previous to this
the line of travel was by means of the Camden and Amboy Rail-
road, steamboats connecting New York with the terminus of that
company at South Amboy, involving a water passage of twenty-
seven miles.

"The original cost of the road, with each item separately
enumerated under oath, in 1839, was $1,951,638.34. It was not
long before the company availed itself of the authority given it in
the charter, to purchase the stock and franchises of the bridge and
turnpike companies, which cost the company about $300,000. The
ferry franchises in Jersey City were bought in 1853, and large sums
were expended in improving the terminal facilities.

"In 1856, the company projected a more direct route between
East Newark and the Market street depot, by bridging the Passaic
at Commercial Dock." This is the site of the present bridge of the
Pennsylvania main line. "The project was bitterly opposed by the
navigation interests." The matter was taken to the courts, and it


was not until 1862 that the railroad company got a decision in its
favor from the United States Supreme Court. In 1867 the New
Jersey Railroad Company and the Camden and Amboy Railroad
Company were consolidated, and were merged with the United
Railroad and Canal Company. On December 21, 1871, a lease was
consummated whereby the Pennsylvania Railroad Company got
control of the railway and canal of the joint companies just men-
tioned, for the term of nine hundred and ninety-nine years.

In 1838 a map of Newark was made for the city authorities,
in two sections, one showing everything east of the west side of
Broad street from a little above Bridge street, and the other the
section west of the line just mentioned. Unfortunately, only the
first-mentioned section is preserved in the city archives, in the
Municipal Library, and that in a state of sad dilapidation, due to
carelessness on the part of city employees of a previous generation.
This map shows the tracks of the New Jersey Railroad and Trans-
portation Company, from the point where they crossed the original
Centre street bridge, proceeding down what is now River street,
and through Market street plaza, from whence a branch ran up
Market street, down Broad and all the way south on that thorough-
fare to Thomas street. Beside the stopping points on Broad street
mentioned in a preceding paragraph (and which are not indicated
on the map), it is understood that the locomotive and cars often
hauled up for the night in William street, just off Broad, and at
other times were simply left on the tracks further down Broad
street. An old resident wrote many years ago, that for a time after
the railroad was introduced gangs of apprentices would sometimes
push the car, or cars, from their nocturnal resting place up to Mar-
ket, and then let them proceed downward, "by the force of rum and
gravity." During the first week 2,026 passengers were carried to
and from Newark and New York; second week, 2,548.

The main line of the New Jersey Railroad Company continued
on beyond Market street plaza upon the "splendid avenue," New
Jersey Railroad avenue, mentioned by Gordon in his Gazeteer as
quoted on a preceding page of this chapter.

The old map of 1838 shows a line of track running up Broad
street all the way to the top of the map, making a continuous line


from the terminus, at Division street, where it connected with the
Morris and Essex Railroad, to Thomas street. There was also a
line of track running from Broad street, at what is now Central
avenue, through Park place at the upper end of the park and down
Centre street to the Centre street bridge. For many years after
the opening of the Morris and Essex its cars were hauled down
Broad street from Division street to the Centre street bridge by
horses. It is believed that the railroad line on Broad street was
used for the delivery of freight, the cars being hauled up and down
by horses, and the merchants receiving their goods from the cars
in front of their store doors.


A meeting for the organization of the Morris and Essex Rail-
road Company was held in Newark on January 14, 1835, the prime
movers in the enterprise being a number of influential residents of
Morristown. It was then voted that a Newark committee co-operate
in the venture with that of Morristown. The railroad's charter,
obtained from the Legislature at the close of that same month of
January, provided for $300,000 capital stock, with authority to
increase this to $500,000. The books for the subscription of stock
were opened on March 9 at Morristown, March 10 at Elizabethtown
and on March 11 at Newark. On March 23 the stockholders organ-
ized the company at Chatham.

Early in 1855 the New Jersey Railroad Company completed a
branch road from its line in what is now Harrison, and a bridge
across the Passaic, perfecting a steam railroad connection with the
Morris and Essex, whose eastern terminus was then on the Newark
side of the river. A charter was obtained by the Hoboken Land and
Improvement Company in 1860 for a railroad connecting Newark
with Hoboken, and which was completed on November 19, 1862.
This was leased to the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Rail-
road in 1868, at the same time that the Lackawanna obtained con-
trol of the Morris and Essex. The Newark and Bloomfield Rail-
road, now the so-called Montclair branch of the Morris and Essex,


was opened, from what is now the Roseville junction, to Mont-
clair, on July 1, 1856. It was at once leased to the Morris and
Essex. The so-called Boonton branch of the Morris and Essex
was put in commission on May 12, 1877.

"The crew of the first train was made up of Benjamin Myer,
conductor ; William Pierson, brakeman ; Henry L. Brown, engine-
man; John Osborn, fireman, and A. 0. Crane, wood passer. As
late as 1892 three of these pioneers were living, viz.: Conductor
Myer ; Engineman Brown, who resided on a farm in New York, and
Wood Passer Crane, to whom credit for much of the data contained
in this article is due. Mr. Myer became a merchant in Newark and
died in 1892.

"Mr. Crane, who died in Hoboken several years ago, was a
close personal friend and life-long admirer of Seth Boyden, and
builder of the road's first locomotive 'Orange.' In those days the
name of the inventor occupied a position in mechanical and scientific
circles similar to that held by Thomas A. Edison at present. On
one of the trial trips between Newark and Madison, previous to
the opening of the line to Morristown, Boyden himself acted as
engineer. This trip, it is recalled, was not in many essentials a
successful one, as when the engine arrived at Bathgate's lane, near
the site of the present Roseville Avenue Station, the thin copper
steam pipe which led to the boiler flattened out, rendering further
progress impossible. This was but one of many similar incidents
dents that occurred during these pioneer days.

"As this was many years previous to the extension of the line
to Hoboken, a connection was established with the New Jersey
Railroad & Transportation Company at their Centre Street Station,
the Morris & Essex cars being hauled by horses over tracks laid
down Broad and Centre streets, where they were attached to the
regular trains of the New Jersey Railroad for Jersey City. When
the original two passenger coaches arrived at Newark, a trial trip
was made down Broad street with the 'Orange' as a 'pusher.' On
the return trip both cars left the rail opposite Lombardy street and
two spectators were instantly killed. This was unquestionably the
first casualty in the history of the company and created consider-
able talk and unfavorable comment at a time when stage coach
interests were supreme and anxious to discredit the new method
of transportation.

"The seats in the original passenger cars were arranged hori-
zontally around the interior so that passengers faced each other.
They were of rough lumber entirely devoid of upholstery. The
cars when in motion had a tendency to sway forward and backward,
and when passing over imperfect tracks the sensation produced was


somewhat similar to attempting to manipulate a rocking-chair on
a log pile.

"The freight cars were similar in construction to the modern
flat car, but less than half their length. Merchandise was protected
from the elements by large sheets of canvas attached to the side
of the car by means of hooks. Frequently in passing over the line
the motion of the train would cause the load to shift on the car
and ofttimes roll down an embankment when it was a case of
stopping the train and reloading before proceeding. * * *
Owing to the limited number of freight cars, it was often found
necessary to drop the rear car of the train at some station along
the line, where it would be unloaded and the empty car picked up
by the train on its return trip." (From "The Railroad Employee"
for June, 1913.)


The Paterson-Newark Branch of the Erie Railroad was opened
in 1868 by the Paterson, Newark and New York Railroad Company,

Online LibraryFrank J. (Frank John) UrquhartA history of the city of Newark, New Jersey : embracing practically two and a half centuries, 1666-1913 (Volume 1) → online text (page 47 of 48)